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Posted July 8, 2005 by Nick Lindauer in Hot Events
 
 

Buffalo Wing Eating Contest


Published in the Asbury Park Press 07/8/05
BY JON VENA
CORRESPONDENT

WHAT: A competition sponsored by Frank’s RedHot Hot Sauce

WHERE: At the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour’s Belmar Open, Ocean and Fourth avenues, Belmar

WHEN: Preliminaries at 12:30 p.m. Saturday; final round at 3:30 p.m.; registration from noon to 4 p.m. today

What’s hot in the world of extreme eating? The hot wing, of course.

Long considered the stuff of beer-drenched sports bars, the hot wing — or Buffalo wing, as some call it — has come of age. Here on the Jersey Shore, the wing flies high, with plenty of restaurants, boutiques and one of the industry’s snappiest sauce manufacturers ready to spice up your life.

At the Court Jester restaurants in Matawan and Freehold, Monday-night football broadcasts are commemorated with “Wing Night,” where hundreds of the handheld heaters are fried up, coated in a hot house dressing and served with the traditional garnish of Bleu cheese dressing and celery.

“Wing Night has become a very special occasion,” says John Fallon, Court Jester co-owner. “We put platters and platters of them out, fill the whole bar, and they disappear. We hold contests to see who can eat the most in under two minutes.”

The acrid appetizer is so popular that it boasts its own festival (the National Buffalo Wing Festival, held every Labor Day weekend in — you guessed it — Buffalo), a bevy of tribute sites (www.thebesthotwings.com rates wings on a per-location basis), and even its own professional roller hockey team, the Nike Buffalo Wings. For the record, their mascot is a pterodactyl — not a chicken.

And it’s the main course at the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour’s Belmar Open, where Frank’s RedHot Hot Sauce is sponsoring “Battle to the Bone,” a wing-eating contest, on Saturday.

History

Legend has it that the hot wing was hatched at Buffalo, N.Y.,’s Anchor Bar, now regarded a veritable culinary landmark. On a late Friday night in 1964, it’s said the mother of bartender Dominic Bellissimo fried up the treats as a quick snack for her son’s friends.

The rest, they say, is history — and it’s lore the Anchor lives up to. The bar hosts Buffalo’s annual wing fest, and its online operation at www.buffalowings.com offers everything from mail-order wings packed in dry ice to gallon jugs of its famous sauce.

“The Anchor Bar is where the hot wing was invented,” says John Veyette, president of the Anchor Bar Franchise Company LLC, which aims to take the Anchor name national with a chain of branded wing joints. “Without the Buffalo wing, the Anchor would just be another tavern.”

Back at the Shore, Atlantic Highlands resident Blair Lazar, president and founder of Blair’s Sauces & Snacks, has a firm hold on the extreme heat market. And business is scorching.

“Wings aren’t just chicken and hot sauce,” Lazar explains. “When you talk about people who like hot wings and spicy foods, you’re talking about passion. I put a lot of passion into my sauces, and people are passionate about their wings. There’s a million ways to make them, so they can appeal to many people.”

Blair’s offers a hearty range of sauces for wings and other fiery fare — from its “Original Death Sauce” to a dry-rub called “Death Rain Nitro.” Fever for the flavor of a hot wing? Try Blair’s Buffalo-flavored potato chips.

At the Englishtown Auction, Blair’s sauces are some of the best-selling products at Maria’s Not Just Hot Sauce store. Owner Maria Bangler of Howell offers everything from barbecue sauce to “Pure Cap” — capsaicin in oil form she won’t sell without a waiver.

Bangler offers hundreds of sauces, from the overtly mild to sauces that come with a Scoville rating — a degree of “taste heat” developed by a Parke Davis pharmacist in 1912. To give you an idea, a bell pepper carries zero Scoville units; a cherry pepper checks in at about 2,500. One of Bangler’s most potent sauces clocks in at 500,000 Scovilles — enough, she says, to cause injury.

“Those sauces are to be used as food additives,” she pointed out. “Many of my customers come in looking for something to spike into their favorite wing recipe. A little goes a very long way.”

“I taste-test everything I sell,” she added, “but I don’t go overboard on the hot stuff. You can affect your sense of taste and ruin your taste buds.”


Nick Lindauer

 
The Original Hot Sauce Blog